Halloween: Divination and the Veil Between Worlds

Halloween, or Samhain as it is traditionally known, is an auspicious time of year when the veils between worlds are thin. This means that all manner of supernatural creatures can pass through them to visit Earth – both friendly and unfriendly! Be sure to leave offerings for the spirits of visiting ancestors, and carve a Jack o’ Lantern to scare away the less civilised guests.

Jack o' lantern
Carve a pumpkin to scare away malevolent spirits. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The weakness of the veils also means that Halloween is an excellent time for divination. Messages from other planes are more accessible, and the dark, reflective atmosphere of autumn makes it the perfect season for asking those deep questions.

Whether you are just after some seasonal fun or seriously looking for answers, divination is an intriguing pastime.

Most of us hover in that liminal space between both wanting and not wanting to know what our futures hold – especially when it comes to love. A hint of a future romance, however small, is enough to give us hope and set us daydreaming. As the Wheel of the Year is turning towards winter, things are ending. Joy can be found in seeking new beginnings.

On a night when anything is possible, when the dead return, supernatural creatures roam free, you can disguise yourself with a costume, and we do extraordinary things like carve vegetables and light them with candles… why can’t the shape of an apple peel or a reflection in a mirror not also be a premonition of love?

Take a ball of yarn and toss it so it unravels. Begin to wind it up, and an apparition of your future lover will appear to gather the end. Or drop it out of an open window and ask the night who is holding the other end. The wind will whisper their name to you.

At midnight on Halloween, light two candles and gaze into a mirror. Brush your hair. An image of your future lover will appear behind you in the reflection.

Halloween mirror divination
Vintage Halloween card. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Peel an apple so the skin comes off in one piece, then using your right hand throw it over your left shoulder. The shape it lands in is the initial of your true love.

If you have more than one suitor, designate some nuts for each of them and place them in a fire. The suitor represented by the first nut to pop is the truest. If you are in a relationship, burn nuts with your partner to see your love’s future. If they burn calmly together, you will both stay true. If one is engulfed by flames, the owner of that nut has the strongest feelings. If one cracks or explodes, the owner of that nut will be unfaithful.

vintage Halloween party
Halloween party image from 1903 showing divination games. Apple bobbing was also a popular game with various rules like whoever first picked up an apple would be the first to marry. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, my personal favourite, if you want to find a partner, walk blindfolded to a cabbage or kale field and pull one out of the ground. The size, shape, how much earth is on it, and how easy it is to pull up will reveal clues about your future lover. Remove the blindfold and walk home, and you may catch a glimpse of them on the way. If not, balance the cabbage on top of a door and whoever it falls on you are sure to marry!

Halloween cabbage field
If you trip over a cabbage on the way does that also foretell something? Photo by Kat Sommers.

Of course you can also use more common methods to discern the future, like tarot cards, pendulums, and crystal balls. Whatever method you choose, have a happy Halloween and may all your visions be bright!

Sources:

Creating Your Vintage Halloween – Marion Paull (Cico Books, 2014)

Halloween: A Time for Divination and Communication

Halloween Magic and Superstitions

Historical Halloween Divination Games and Spells

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Amelia Starling is a writer, editor, and folklorist. She graduated from the University of Winchester with a degree in Creative Writing, and currently lives in Japan and works as an English teacher. She is also a content editor for Folklore Thursday. Folklore-wise, she's particularly interested in the selkies, witches, and spinning wheels. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, photography, and attempting to play guitar.

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